After a devastating accident, university professor and astronomy scholar Anna struggles to find her words again in the black hole of aphasia.
Should You See It?
Imagine having the same thoughts and feelings you do now, but being utterly unable to find the words to describe them. You’re trapped in your body, struggling to express yourself while your loved ones try desperately to understand. This harrowing scenario is just what Night Sky, written by Susan Yankowitz and directed by Alain Chamsi, tries to tackle.
Just months before she’s set to present her paper on her latest astronomical discoveries, Anna is injured in a car crash. She suffers from brain damage that leaves her with aphasia – a language disorder that renders her unable to express herself. The subject matter is fascinating and has the potential to be powerful. The tension! The desperation! The inner turmoil! The strain on relationships and daily interactions! Unfortunately, Night Sky fails to deliver on what could be a tragic but ultimately uplifting and inspirational story.
Parts of it felt skimmed over or superficially presented. For instance, the fight scenes between Anna and her husband, Daniel, seemed to come out of nowhere; there wasn’t a hint of tension until absolutely necessary to move the plot forward. It felt contrived. There were also scenes and characters that either did nothing to advance the plot or were not used to their full potential. The best example of this is the aphasic patient character. Despite being consistently present, the character remained unnamed and her purpose remained unclear. I can only assume she was meant to demonstrate the effects of aphasia and the amount of work required to heal. However, as amazing as Cheryl Zimmer was as the aphasic patient, the role felt unexplored and essentially unnecessary to the plot.
I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this play is unfinished; however, there’s undoubtedly the foundation of something there. Despite this, the actors performed as well as they could given the material they had to work with. Tania Carriere in particular stood out with her masterful portrayal of Anna.
On the technical side, the production was very strong. The lighting crew handled things well, although there were a couple of stretches where a series of short scenes necessitated blackouts that interrupted the flow of the piece. As well, the sound effects were well-integrated so as not to distract from the dialogue.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did the play move you? Did you think the subject matter was explored as well as it could have been? Let us know in the comments section below!